Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised his opposite number from across the city ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie at Eastlands.

31148 - Fergie hails Mancini's achievements

Sir Alex takes his side to Manchester City eager for revenge for their 6-1 Old Trafford humbling in the Premier League in October. And despite the wounds of that defeat still being fresh, the United boss was quick to concede that Roberto Mancini has excelled at City.

"It's right to say a lot of managers couldn't handle the expectations at City," Sir Alex said. "He's shown a lot of good decision-making in his time there. Most importantly, it looks to me that he's got the strength of character to handle big players. I don't think he's afraid of them.

"He's done a great job and I can see him staying there for a considerable length of time. I'm sure he's in one of the best paid jobs and the salaries they are apparently paying the players are enormous, so he's always going to attract the best players. So there's no reason why he should want to leave that - if they keep on winning.

"There's no reason why you can't get on with other managers because we have got the same job. It's a difficult job and I respect managers who commit themselves the way most of the managers in the Premier League do.

"Why we are in it, I couldn't tell you. Maybe it's because it's the only thing we know - the only thing we want to know. It's that driven love that exists between us all that makes us want to stay in it."

On the FA Cup itself, he added: "I don't think it's got the same magic as it had when I first came down here and that's a lot to do with the doing away of replays until the tie was decided. You could have three or four replays.

"Also, the decision to play semi-finals at Wembley has lessened the Cup's importance and the emphasis on European football and the Premier League, with its television coverage, has changed things."